The holidays have come and gone. New Year’s goals have been made, full of excitement, promise and hope. And quickly after, it was back to work, back to reality. The warm glow of the Christmas lights boxed until next year, along with your holiday cheer.
We’re mid-January and where I’m from, that means cold, grey, snowy days. As I write this, it’s actually raining sleet over a landscape of snow, which means it will virtually be a land of ice tomorrow morning. Not necessarily the most inspiring for a morning jog.
Beating the winter blues
I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but some days I don’t feel as positive about pursuing my dreams and that’s why I have set in place some helpful ways to keep my spirits up, even when life’s got me down (I’m looking at you winter). Given the chatter around the sports club I go to, I don’t think I’m the only one who faces days like these. I’ve over heard a few people mention how hard it is to get into a healthy lifestyle, especially after a month of overindulging.
If you find that the zeal you had earlier this month is fading and you might be sinking into the winter blues, I’ve got a few ideas to help you steer clear of a seasonal fizzle.
It’s normal to resist change, keep going.
Before we dive into those, it’s important to know that any time you make a positive change in your life you will receive opposition. It’s just a known fact. Whether from outsiders, some other area of your life that suddenly needs more attention, or even from yourself (9 reasons why you resist change).
The important thing is to acknowledge “downers” for what they are and not lose focus on your goals and happiness.
One of the key contributors to beating the blues is the choice you have in the matter. You can’t control external factors that contribute to your happiness, but you can control how to react them as well as ALL the things you CAN choose. For instance, an activity that seems harmless might actually be part of the very thing that is killing your pep.
Do you have dreams of writing a book? Boosting your business? Making a quilt? Getting fit?
Whatever it may be, small things can derail your big goals.
Choosing Netflix over writing.
Eating a rich dessert over heading to the gym.
Staying up late on your smartphone over going to bed early.
Looking at others people’s content on social media over writing your business plan.
One choice isn’t technically better than the other in the moment, but one WILL be more timely and effective to your (or mine’s) happiness. Opposition isn’t always a bleak, gloomy event that happens to you, often it’s the sum of mindless and seemingly harmless decisions, which keep you (and me) from experiencing true joy.
Here’s what we can do to beat feeling blue, burnt out or just plain unmotivated:
- Take Vitamin D: It’s known as the sunshine vitamin for a reason. Vitamin D increases serotonin, the mood neurotransmitter (source) It’s an immunity-booster and fights depression.
- Workout: While you exercise, your body thinks you’re under stress and produces endorphines to block the pain. Those endrophins happen to also make us feel euphoric and happy.
- Eat healthy: Calcium regulates mood fluctuations. Iron prevents lathargy from deficiency. Magnesium contributes to feeling happy. The list goes on. Eating healthy, whole foods is one the greatest gifts we can give ourselves to beat the blues.
- Meditate for 15 minutes daily: They say that when you meditate, you tap into a consciousness that you aren’t aware of when you’re living in a mindless state (not being aware of your decisions). When doing so, you can connect with your feelings and a greater sense of calm. That calmness translates into your everyday activities and relationships (source)
- Create an action plan: Goals and dreams are great, but without an action plan they can seem out of reach. Creating an action plan with “baby steps”. Once you’ve identified one or several goals to pursue, break down the overall goal into digestible, smaller goals that are easy to accomplish, especially on a timeline.
- Review said action plan daily: Wake up in the morning and take a look at your action plan. What are you able to achieve today? Tackle at least one item and take stock at your progress from the day before.
- Create a playlist: Listening to your favourite tunes causes your brain to release dopamine. Read more on Why Music Makes You Happy and create a playlist that will get you groovin’.
- Dance to said playlist: You made it, now rock out – literally. Get up and dance.
- Fill a gratitude journal: Studies show that gratitude is strongly linked to happiness. Get yourself a gratitude journal and start filling it with all the things you are thankful for. Need help? I’ve got a few ideas: 31 Simple Things To Be Grateful For
- Plan something fun every week to look forward to: Having an activity (big or small) that you look forward to can help you get through a tough day or week. Maybe it’s a date night or continuing education class. Maybe it’s a movie night or a trip to the museum. Take out your calendar and plan at least one fun activity each week.
- Get outside of ourselves: Life is so much more than about ourselves. It’s not just about the “me”, but about our relationships and collective experiences. How can you get outside yourself? Try connecting authentically with your family, friends, and co-workers. Listen to their words and stories with attention and compassion. Another way to get outside of the “me” is to volunteer for a cause. (Watch: Get outside yourself)
- Shake it off: I love this quote by Doctor Donna, who references Taylor Swift’s song Shake if off:
“If we miss the mark, we make a mistake, we hit a dead end, just remind yourself it’s all a part of life! And THEN — Just Shake It OFF!”